California principal suspends entire program after coach is threatened

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

An entire basketball program in Southern California has been suspended indefinitely after physical threats were made against the team's coach and his wife, with the coach resigning from his long-held post in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

As reported by Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC and a variety of other L.A. sources, longtime Newport Harbor (Calif.) High coach Larry Hirst resigned from his position at the school after he received physical threats against himself and his wife both at the school and their Huntington Beach home.

Because no source of the threat has been revealed, the entire Newport Harbor basketball program was suspended indefinitely, leaving 30-40 players bereft of any organized basketball activities, even if their season had recently come to an end.

"He was very fearful for himself and for the safety of his family and ended up quitting as a result," Newport Harbor principal Michael Vossen told KABC. "So that's a very serious situation. …

"Any individuals found to have participated in this they'll be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law both from the criminal aspect as well as from the school side."

Hirst had previously taken a leave of absence in January with Newport Harbor mired in a 10-game losing streak but later returned in March up until he and his wife received the threats against them.

While investigations move on, debate continues to swirl about whether the situation was handled correctly by school administrators, as one student related to KABC.

"The whole team is suspended, that's just unfair and whoever threatened our coach needs to come out and give a public, official apology not only to the coach but all of our student body," said student Donovan Acadine.

Hirst's sudden departure from Newport Harbor, a school at which he had coached for more than15 years, is likely to throw more than the coach's life alone into disarray. While he and his wife have almost certainly seen the school for the last time (though the 50-year-old Hirst has refused to rule out a return to coaching at another school in the future), Newport Harbor will also have to cope with the disturbing knowledge that someone pushed out a longtime staple of the community.

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